Settling in Sessions: take the stress out of starting nursery 

25 Apr 2024

Settling in Sessions: take the stress out of starting nursery 

Settling in sessions, what are they? So you have done all the research and you have finally found a childcare provider that you think will suit you and your child, and now you start thinking about the beginning of nursery. This is a huge milestone in your and your child’s life, and it is important to take away any anxiety for you as a parent and your child, to make the process as stress free as possible.

We are sure it feels like just the other day that you were starting at baby or toddler groups in your area and now you are considering or about to start at nursery.

Many parents find this transition very difficult, especially the first few weeks, from the morning rush, drop off, pick up, meal time, making new friends, meeting other parents and your child getting to know their key worker. The early days consist of a brand new routine for both the child and parent, and until it all becomes a familiar routine your nursery should be there to support and guide you every step of the way

What stress could look like for nursery and preschool children

Factors such as surroundings, adults, foods, and routines can be new and different to a child’s normal home routine, and sometimes daunting for babies and children. However, Grandir UK, is here to help by highlighting what stress can look like for children between 0-5 years and outline ways to reduce stress and support your child to make the transition to nursery easier, more successful and stress free.

What is stress?  

According to the NHS, stress shows up when we feel threatened or under pressure and can be triggered when we are doing something new or unexpected that takes us out of our comfort zone.

When we feel stressed, our body releases a ‘fight or flight’ hormone called adrenaline. The goal of this is to make us take action quickly, but too much of this hormone can negatively affect our mood, body or relationships.

Whether you are a growing baby or fully grown adult, everyone feels and experiences stress is some way or another, and a child starting nursery for the first time or transitioning to a new nursery can be a recipe for stress for your child, and even yourself.

What is a settling in session?

Settling in sessions are sessions where a child can come into a nursery and become familiar with the environment and their new key person. Most nurseries offer a settling in session, this can help your child understand what to expect from their nursery experience before they officially begin a full day.

These sessions are an important time for you child’s key worker to find out more about your child, your child’s interests, habits diet, and anything else they need to know about your child, and for your child to get to know their key person. These sessions are usually only a few hours long to ensure a smooth transition to their nursery setting. Your child will start to make new friends, work at building relationships, meeting the nursery team, and become familiar with their new surroundings.

These sessions will give children starting nursery the time away from their own homes to adjust accordingly.

What can I do to make this transition easier for everyone?  

Well, we’re glad you asked! We have spoken to the Learning & Development team at our Grandir UK nurseries who have given us these top tips on how to help start an easy, guided transition into nursery:

1. Don’t skip nursery settling in sessions!  

Settling in session with key worker at nursery

We often get asked by parents if settling in sessions are necessary, and the answer is 100%, yes!  

The settling in process is shorter than a full day, only an hour or two, and will help parents and their child get used to being apart. To begin with, you, your child and your child’s key person will have a session together to help your little one get used to someone new. In the next session your child will spend a little time without you to see how they adjust. The process is always gentle and gradual, but this time apart will slowly increase to help your child get used to being separated from you for periods of the day.  A staff member may suggest you bring along a transitional object, such as a blanket or favourite toy. They will also ask questions so they are familiar with your child’s likes and dislikes.

These sessions provide a gentle approach to nursery life, reducing separation anxiety which is very common in children from 0-5 years and managing the stress that moving to nursery can cause in this age group.

All Grandir UK nurseries and preschools provide settling in sessions before your child officially starts nursery to ensure that the transition to nursery is a gentle and stress free as possible for everyone involved.

2. Learn calming methods with your nursery  

Stress in children can show up in different ways, this could be crying, screaming, lashing out, withdrawal or through many other emotions.

There are many effective ways of calming down children, that include using breathing techniques, calm corners for children to relax and regulate their emotions in, and the use of colour to help communicate and understand emotions.

Different calming and regulating methods will work for different children, and the nursery staff and key persons will be able to work with you the parent to establish what works best for your child, so you can continue to use them at home.

3. Calming nursery environment

Calming nursery environment to avoid stress

The type of environment will have a big impact on your child’s wellbeing and how your child will settle into nursery. Many nurseries will create an environment to embody a home-from-home feel to help your child feel, well, at home!

Hygge environments are a great example of this and many Grandir UK nurseries include this in their offering.

These are just a few of the many ways which you can help your child settle easily into nursery life.

4. Making sure your child settles

The beginning is always stressful for both child and parents. The settling in period will help both you and your child gradually build relationships with your key workers and help everyone feel more comfortable with the daily nursery routine. Helping your child adjust quickly to the nursery environment, and become more familiar with their new environment, their class room meal times, other children and new friends.

Whether your child is a baby, toddler or at pre school stage, we hope your child has a positive social interaction at their new nursery school, and that the process is easy for all parties involved and that they have a great first nursery day with other children and their key person.

Find out more about our nurseries

If you would like more information on the settling in process, find your local nursery on the Grandir UK website and speak to a local, knowledgeable Nursery Manager about settling and calming your little one at a lovely nursery near you.

If you have not yet chosen your nursery then what are you waiting for?

Book a visit today!

Grandir UK is the home of multiple nursery brands across the United Kingdom and has been delivering outstanding childcare solutions to families with babies, toddlers and pre school children for over 25 years. Our nursery staff are ready and waiting to help you find the perfect school for your child and begin the settling in process.